Re: “Freedom of speech, backlash of anger over four words at South Portland High School” (Feb. 24):

Lily SanGiovanni, senior class president of South Portland High School, did a service to her school by being brave enough to invoke her right to educate her colleagues as well as the citizenry of South Portland by her stating “if you’d like to” when she invited students and faculty members to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

I hope that this action on her part will generate other students to consider not only their right to not say the pledge but also their right to consider the content. I’m particularly enamored of the last six words of the pledge: “… with freedom and justice for all.”

Perhaps South Portland High will include in its social studies curriculum a parsing of the pledge to examine the essence of the pledge. For example, what exactly is meant by “… and to the Republic …”? We’re a republic?

And why pledge to the flag and not to, well, what should be the target of the pledge? Congress and the president “pledge” to protect and uphold the Constitution – shouldn’t we all express that sentiment?

Ms. SanGiovanni’s four words are not an attack on the United States of America but rather, in my view, an attack on complacency of thought. Clearly, she has absorbed the essence of her education, which is to examine everything in our culture – art, science, religion, rituals, history and symbolic representations of things we collectively value.

Mark Schwartz

South Portland